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INTERNATIONAL DREADNOUGHTBUILDING. IN view of the naval situation it may be of interest to pass briefly in review the naval activity that has been displayed during the past few years by nations other than the British and the Germans, such as the Japanese, the Italians, and the Au Brians. A writer on naval topics recently declared iv defence of the enormous sums now Iring spent mi battleship construction throughout the world that '""battleships am cheaper than war." He adds that, shockingly wasteful though an up-to-date naval policy is in many of its aspects, there can be no i

doubt that it is preferable to a weakness in warships and personnel which would invite atack and subject the nation to defeat in case of hostilities. Thero is thus much grim consolation for the patriots of the affected nations in the knowledge that, at the present tune, there are in course of construction in the world's naval dockyards over 40 "Dreadnoughts," the cost of each of which will bo anything from £1,750,001' to £2,000,000. That is the activity in respect of two types of war vessel only — the battleship and the modern armoured cruiser. It takes no account of all that is being done in the production of smaller vessels. Some of the 40 Dreadnoughts have been launched ; of others little more than the keel plate has been laid. Seven such ships, in addition to the 40, are completed, or should be. These are the Dreadnought, Inflexible, Indomitable, Invincible, and Bellerophon, belonging to Great Britain, and the Salsuma and Aki, belonging to JaP an ' ....... The Dreadnought and the Satsuma were tho first results of evolution j?. naval shipbuilding due lo the lesson of the gteat *™ fight o{ Tsushima, when the Russian Baltic Fleet was destroyed by the Japanese with the utmost ease. The Satsuma was begun first; but the Dreadnought was first in commission. Her name, therefore, is used to mark a departure in naval architecture and ar. mament scarcely less revolutionary than that initiated by the Monitor more than 50 years ago. For 12 months the advent of the Dreadnought paralysed work in every naval dockyard other than those of Great Britain and Japan. But by that lime Germany, which was most hardly hit in her naval pretensions through the introduction of this "new era of giant battleships carrying a pow ; erful battery of guns of heavy calibre, was able to "respond. ..... • A* S-'r W. H. White, formerly for many years Director of Naval Construction" and Assistant-Controller ot the Royal Navy, shows in a series of letters which he contributed to the "Spectator in December and January last, Germany is spending during the current financial year a sum of £20,023.500 on her navy. That sum is three times more than the expenditure for 1899-1900, and twice that of 1902-3. Of the grand total, nearly £11,000.000 will be devoted to new construction and armaments. Half-a. million is to go in the development of submarines. "There will be in process of construction 10 first-class battleships, four large armoured cruisers, seven small cruisers, and 27 torpedo-boat tiestroyers . . Germany is within her rights of course, in adopting this policy, and energetically carrying it into effect. . Und»r the Act of 1900 the first-class German battleshms !n*d down wore of 13,200 tons, and cost- ahout £!I.iSO,UUU each. After the Dreadnought was mmmonced the vessels lidd down under the new German law of iyo6 had displacements raised to 18.000 tons, while their cost exceeds £1.800.000. The further law of 1908. which shortened the official life of German battleships on the effective list from 25 to 20 years, and so involved an accelerated rate of completion for the shipbuilding programme, followed upon, if it did not result from, the pulbication in 1907 of an official statement prepared by the British Admiralty, in which nine out of the 20 battleships appearing in the German list were declared to be oh«olescent. .... • • The effect on other Powers of the rivalry between Germany and Britain has been most marked. Probably the most striking results are shown in the naval programmes of Austria and th" South American republic of Brazil — striking because of the departures ttiey represent. Brazil ordered three Dreadnoughts to be designed and built in England. One, the Minas Geraes, has certainly been launched ; probably the Fao P -nlo has also been put off the slip. The Minas Geraes is the largest battleship afloat, and her armament will be of the most formidable kind. All thru? ships are to be ready for sea this year. What their nlt'ninie destiny is i<= a matter about which lh«re i» much speculation. It has been stated that Brazil really requires them for herself. But in Germany it is believed they will be purchased either by Great Britain or the United Statps. While thero may be cans- 5 for suspicion with regard to the building of battleships by remote Brazil, other nations may inquire the reasons behind the new naval activity of Austria. Sir W. H. White says that "tho development of the Austrian navy during the last fewyears, and the increased expenditure on new construction, are proportionately greater than the corresponding movement in any other country, except Ger. many ; and i{ is a significant fact that those two countries are closely allied." The most potent influence on Austrian naval policy is that of Italy; and vice versa. The writer already quoetd c-hows how. in t<>n years Austria, previously cemtent with' ve-s-ls costing £400.000 has --xn^iuletl until "she is now building three battleships of 14,500 tons, each of v. 'li'-h is t'i carry four 12 inch anc', eight 9.4 inch guns, the estimated cost of each vessel being nearly £1.700,000. Italy was content, np to 1908. to build battleships ißegina Elena class) of 12,400 tons armed with two 12-inch and 12 flinch guns ; but in view of the Austrian programme she is now at work on vessels exceeding 18,000 tons. Austria has replied by inviting naval constructors to submit competitive designs for battleships of 20,000 tons to carry 'singlecalibre big-gun' armaments (similar to those of the Dreadnought and her successors) and to attain very high speed If three such vessels are laid down, it is anticipated that th? annual expenditure on new construction will be increased to £2,700,000, which will exceed by nearly half-a-million the average total naval expenditure from 1900 to 1908, and will greatly surpass the corresponding expenditure in Italy.'' • ••••• As against, a possible combination be. tween Germany and Austria, Britain may reckon on her traditional friend, Italy, and her recent ally, Japan. In hi? report <>n the Italian Navy, Sir W. H. White says that at present it includes 11 modern battleships afloat, two oi which are incomplete, and their aggregate displacement approaches 136,000 ton:. Ten armoured cruisers are built oi building, their aggregate displacement being nearly CO,OOO tons ; •the oldest of these vess.-h was launched 16 years ago. Four are still incomplete. Last year the Minister for Marine proposed tho construction of two battleships, each exceeding 18,000 tons in displacement, designed to carry 10 or 12 12in. guns, and to have a vory high speed (22 to 23 knots). One of these vessels is actually iv progress, and the other will probably be proceeded with this year. , In addition to this armoured fleet, Italy possesses a number of small swift cruisers and a power ful torpedo flotilla, which includes 17 destroyers less than 12 years old, about 125 te>rpedo-boats of various classes, and six sub-marines. Dm ing the last 10 years tho total sum voted in the naval estimates of Italy has varied from about £4,600,000 to £6,300,000. The traditional friendship between Italy and Great Britain, and the important influence which the existence of a powerful Italian fleet must exercise upon the maintenance of our position in the Mediterranean, makes it a matter of the highest importance that Italy shonld not decline from her position relatively to other Mediteranean Powers, or lose the place that has been so hardly and honourably caijnad amongst the war fleets of tiie world." Britain's other friend, or potential friend. Japan, in addition to the Satsuma anil the Aki. has siac battles Kip* or armoured cruisers in course of construction, and all should be completed by March, 1911. Finally, another friend of Britain, whose naval interests at least are identical \.«*h those of the British— the United States— has the Michigan and South Carolina, vessels of 16.000 tons, almost completed, and four othei battleships of 20,000 tons on the ftocks. I These latter will be superior, it is said, to any British ship now afloat, in defenj sive and ogensive power. In 10 years the United States has spent nearly £6"3.000.00 C on new ships and armament. This year's apportionment for the same purpose is £7,800,000, while the total navy vote closely approaches to £26,000,008. ..... In the foregoing review of the international naval position France has not been mentioned, because, relatively, she is a negligible quantity. She has devoted attention almost solely to land defence : and it is only now that. the. national spirit is being aroused to the need of navy improvement to keep abreast ot her neighbours. France is building six-first-class battleships of 18,027 tons displacement each, but the commence- ■

ment of each was much delayed. The construction, is both costly and tedious, and generally "the position is such as to draw recently from M. Bousseau, writing in "Le Temps," the following criti- i cism: — "We in France have been far too long ready to accord every virtue to defensive tactics which entail all the risks of leasing without any of the chances of winning. . . In all seriousness our navy, in which everything has been sacrificed to the defensive, only exists at all by favour of the few offensive vessels wherewith the too rare prudence of some of our former Ministers of Marine has endowed it; but of vessels of real offensive power we do not possess sufficient to make up a squadron equal to half the fleet of Admiral Evans (the United States fleet which visisted Australia) We have six battleships buildinc but they do not fill the deficiency either as regards the United States or Gcrmanv, and we mu.H have others with the least possible delay." In the same article M. Rousseau remarks:— In whatever direction we turn we notice how much "*e diminution of British power reduces the chances of peace. j . |

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The Nelson Evening Mail. TUESDAY, APRIL 6, 1909. THE RACE FOR NAVAL SUPREMACY. Nelson Evening Mail, Volume XLIII, Issue 0, 6 April 1909

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